After six years in the wilderness of injury, Marrar’s Josh Suckling has emerged with a simple philosophy.
“It’s just good to be stringing games together, that’s the main thing for me,” Suckling said.
Suckling heads to Barellan on Saturday for his second straight senior game after four in a row in reserve grade.
Before that, you have to go back to 2011 to find his last game for Marrar.
“I did my knee in the last game before finals, at Gumly, so I missed out on playing in that grand final,” he recalled.
It was the beginning of a horror stretch. If this was a TV show, there’d be a warning that some scenes will distress some viewers.
After recovering from a knee reconstruction, Suckling, by now in Melbourne, did the same knee again in the pre-season of 2013.
Between the disappointment and work, his second reconstruction wasn’t a priority. But eventually he went under the knife and through another rehab.
Soon enough, it was 2016. The itch was back and it was time to try again with Norwood in Melbourne.
“The knee felt good but I did my hamstring early in the year, then in June I dislocated my shoulder,” he said.
It must’ve felt like the gods – and the odds – were against him playing again.
“Oh mate…” he said.
“I had all that time off. But my body just wasn’t adapted to playing footy.”
Suckling is a cousin of AFL premiership player Matt Suckling but born into a rugby league family, the son of Wagga Brothers legend, Chris.
“I started in league and just played a bit of Aussie rules with Matt, my cousin.
“But I got the itch to play Aussie rules when I was about 19,” he said.
“Dad wasn’t real happy, but he had to get used to it!”
Six seasons at Langtry Oval followed, before six away.
Not even his old man would’ve begrudged Suckling his return to the seniors last week, playing in the midfield and on a back-flank during the win over the Jets.
“The body’s the best it’s ever felt but you always have that feeling in the back of your mind, will I get through the game?” he said.
Now 30, Suckling said his last stint at Marrar feels a long time ago. There’s a more youthful feel now compared to half a dozen years ago.
He played in the club’s 2009 and 2010 grand final losses and the club hasn’t made a decider since 2011.
“That also gave me the hunger to come back and it looks like we’re going to be in with a show,” he said.
“I wasn’t thinking of playing ones when I came back. Now I’m in there, I want to play some consistent footy and keep my spot.
”We didn’t play our best footy but I’m sure that’ll come later in the year and it’s good to bank wins at this time of the season.”
The Bombers take on Barellan minus ruckman Nick Molkentin and midfielder Shannon Williams, due to minor injuries.
Barellan are without James McCabe, who became a dad during the week, while Will Overs is out with a groin.